Blizzard Entertainment released the much-anticipated third installment in the Diablo franchise a little over a month ago on May 15, 2012. For those who are unfamiliar with Blizzard, it is the gaming giant responsible for the titles Warcraft, World of Warcraft and Starcraft. Despite the server overloads that occurred when the game was first released due to the rush of players scrambling to get online, Blizzard has released yet another devilishly beguiling game that engages the player in its dynamic play and stunning graphics.
For video game enthusiasts who like a bit of gore and horror with their action role-playing games, Diablo III certainly does the trick. The beginning of the game starts with the player battling an onslaught of animated corpses, bile-throwing Wretched Mothers and various types of undead. Throughout the game, players will battle a wild array of creatures from worm-filled, Frankenstein-like corpses called the Grotesque to oversized lizards called the Dune Thresher, all the while exploring an environment that is candy for the eyes and collecting treasure and equipment that only gets better as the game goes on.
Unlike the skill-tree system that was used in previous versions of the game, the new skill system is much more flexible. As the hero levels throughout the game, different skills become available. The hero also earns runes, which add a special ability onto the actual skill. The player never needs to second-guess what skill is best or how to spend skill points, as was the case in previous versions of Diablo. Now, you can rest easy while hunting down the Lord of Terror when it comes to your skill set. You can change your skills at any point in the game, which adds a new element of flexibility and doesn’t require the player to be psychic, lucky, or to go the old-fashioned route of doing extensive research to decide which skills to pick when.
In addition to the flexible skill system, multiple character classes and difficulties enable the player to experience the game in many different ways. Each character class is available in both male and female models – another first for the Diablo franchise. It’s certainly refreshing to be able to see a variety of body types represented in the female character models, although a broader range of ages and ethnic backgrounds would have pushed them to another level of inclusivity. The Demon Hunter’s female model design is criticized for wearing heels constantly, but one could assume one of two things: She has killer fashion sense (the soles of her shoes are often red, after all) or she secretly has stilt-feet under those leather boots. Although the female models could use a bit of work in terms of being more inclusive, they are definitely a step in the right direction.
The developers really went the extra step in making the game stream-lined and easy to play. In addition to the simplified skill system, auto pick-up is enabled for items such as gold and life globes. Life globes are the games answer to a heavy reliance on health potions in previous installments. To reduce the reliance on quaffing, monsters drop health globes that are picked up by your hero automatically when they run by or over the globe. The potions themselves are still a part of the game but can be easily accessed. Instead of having your fingers dance back and forth across the keyboard during boss fights to try and get the right potion, now players only need to hit Q.
Although the game encapsulates far more than can be articulated here, Diablo III proves to be a fabulous play through. For those who have played the game before, it refines a lot of the aspects that made the previous iterations so successful, and for new players, it presents an exciting new world to discover.